tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC June 29, 2010 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
required to give consideration to each party to try to figure out what the case looks like from that party's point of view. and that's an important thing for a judge to do. but at the end of the day, what the judge does is to apply the law. and as i said, it might be hard sometimes to figure out what the law requires in any given case, but it's law all the way down. >> statutory constitution, the precedent. >> that's correct. >> now, when the president announced the retirement of justice stevens, he said judges, this is a slightly different formulation. so the next question has to do with the second way that he f m formulated. he said judges should have an understanding of how the law affects the lives of daily people. powerful interest must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens, was the way he put it. now the media outlets have summarized this and called it the fight for the little guy
sensibility. i'm not sure that's exactly the way the president would put it, but you heard some of my colleagues here yesterday lament the alleged activism of the current court in supposedly always ruling for the corporate interests or the interests of big business. do you agree with the president and my colleagues that judges should take into account whether a particular party is a big guy or a little guy when approaching a question of law? or that one side is powerful, or that one side is a corporation? >> well, here's what i think. i think that courts have to be level playing fields. and the -- everybody has to have an opportunity to go before the court to state his case and to get equal justice. and one of the glorious things about courts is that they do provide that level playing field in all circumstances in all cases. and even when that level playing field is not provided by other branchs of government, even when
there's some imbalance with respect to how parties come to congress or the president or the state houses, the obligation of courts is to provide that level playing field, to make sure that every single person gets the opportunity to come before the court, gets the opportunity to make his best case, and gets a fair shake. >> now, when you say level to ensure a level playing field, you're not saying that if the parties come to court with positions that are unequal, that is to say one party's position is better than the other party's position, that the court's obligation is to try to somehow make those two positions the same? >> no, no, no -- >> i mean -- >> it's just a matter of everybody is entitled to have his claim heard. everybody is entitled to fair consideration, and it doesn't matter whether you're an
individual, you're a corporation, or you're the government. one of the really remarkable things about watching, actually, a supreme court argument is sometimes i go up there and i'm arguing for the government very sort of -- i mean you would think it's kind of a favored position to be arguing for the government. and it turns out it's not. it turns out that the justices give you as the government's representative just as hard of a time, maybe a harder time than they give anybody else. and that's the way it should be. whether you're the government, whether you're a corporation, whether you're a person, no matter what kind of person you are, no matter what your wealth or your power that you get equal treatment from the court. and what i meant by equal treatment is just that the court takes your claim seriously, takes your case seriously, listens to you as hard as it listens to anybody else and then makes the right decision on the law. >> during his confirmation hearing, chief justice roberts said if the constitution says -- this is in response to a
question, by the way. and he said if the constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in a court -- in court before me. but if the constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win because my obligation is to the constitution. that's the oath. do you agree with chief justice roberts? >> i do, senator kyl. >> now, one of the things i brought up in my opening statement was obviously your clerkship for justice marshall. and my belief that justice marshall's views are more along the -- the line of viewpoint that president obama expressed. and you wrote about this on more than -- in more than one way. and let me just cite one thing you wrote about justice marshall's view. and i'm quoting now. you said -- >> we're going to switch over now to the petraeus hearings because we've got jim webb of virginia who is a combat
veteran, of course from vietnam, questioning general petraeus. >> that is something we are largely doing with our a.i.d. comrades and others. but again, the question there is to get to something that is sustainable, that's enduring, that's self-sustaining over the long-term. and then there's really a fourth phase to the clear hold and build. there's the transition phase, and the phase we begin to thin out, we begin to hand off tasks. and of course, you don't merely need to do this so that ultimately we can reduce our forces in theater. you need to do it so that you can send your forces elsewhere so that as we solidify a situation you can focus more in other places. or push out a bit farther to increase the security bubble for the people. you don't have to go everywhere, this is not a nationwide effort in that regard. but you do have to be able to protect the population in the key lines of communication.
now, i've talked in recent days with ambassador ikenberry, holbrook, the eu rep, and various afghan government officials, nato secretary general, and a whole host of others about these kinds of issues. and there's no question that we have got to do everything that we can to enable our afghan partners to address the kinds of challenges that you have talked about right here. this all begins with a foundation of security, though. because you cannot expect local police to survive in a fierce insurgent situation. you can't expect local commerce to develop. you can't rebuild schools and so forth. so that's obvious. but we've got to get the foundation and the security. i think that is doable as the writer of that letter mentioned. and then we've clearly got to address the kinds of challenges
that have made the build hold and build phases so challenging. and then enable the transition phases, as well. >> well, i thank you for that. and i wish you the best. i still have a great number of concerns about the stability of the political environment in that country. but as i said to you in my office, i will do everything i can to support your effort here. and again, i -- you have my utmost respect for having accepted this call. it's basically what it is. this is a call to service. and i respect that very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> privileged to do it, senator, thank you. >> senator? >> thank you very much, general. >> answering questions, of course right there in the ongoing turmoil in iraq and of course the timetable for getting troops out of afghanistan. here with me right now is our panel, general wesly clark who is a retired four-star general.
he's also chairman and ceo of e wes k. clark and associates. and an msnbc analyst. we also have political director for atlantic media ron brownstein. let me go to general clark. it seems, general clark, the question that everyone wants an answer to is when are we leaving afghanistan? when is it safe to leave? can we leave a country that can repel al qaeda when we do leave? >> well, i think that is a key question. but you're not going to get -- as you said, chris, you can't get the answer here. this has to be played out. but i think general petraeus is the right guy to play it out. i think the best that we can do right now is the ambiguity that's out there concerning the 2011 date. we just got to work our way through this. but i believe this is a mission which is important and vital to the united states, and i hope that the american people will support it. >> what about when we get to
july 11th? the counter does turn, we'll get there a year from now. what does that -- does that become as we get closer to that, the date for the president to really decide whether we're leaving fairly quickly or we're not. >> i think it -- as you get closer to it, the metrics get sharper, you have a better understanding for the dimensions that senator webb was talking about like the civilian governance. and at that point, you can make the judgment to determine can you withdrawal and at what pace at that point. >> is it your belief based on military history or political history that the united states or any outside government can create a fighting force within a country? for example, looking at history, can we say somebody said the other day with great skepticism, you don't have to tell the brazilians to play soccer, you can't tell certain people to be what they are. they either have a fighting mentality, a nationalism that is
unified in terms of a national identity or they don't. they lost to the chinese communists because they lost the willingness they could win or whatever happened. whatever happened in vietnam with the saigon government. can you create a fighting force by outside will? >> not by outside will alone. but there's a whole lot more than that going on in afghanistan right now. there's a very broad nation-building effort going on as well as the training for the police in the military. the afghans have a very good marshal tradition. among the afghans, the question is who are they fighting for? and why? and those understandings have to be embedded, they have to be understood by the troops, and they have to be -- they have to reflect the actual situation or most of the situation that they see looking upward. that's part of the problem that general mcchrystal and general petraeus will have to deal with.
>> general mccaffrey, that is a question. if they look upward, they see the karzai government. the government described as corrupt, having stolen an election in popular parlance. can they look up to that and die for it? >> well, you know, i'm not too sure that an afghan soldier in a brigade out in the frontier in pakistan is thinking about his national government. the afghan army's been a surprising success story, as a matter of fact. they're the first army in their history that doesn't abuse the people. they've been fairly courageous. they're good at battalion level. i think probably over time, this lieutenant general caldwell is going to be able to put it together. let me add in one x-factor, though. chris, i had a very informative conversation with one of our most experienced colonels in and out of afghanistan for seven or eight years now. and he said remind yourself that that war could end the fighting
in any given 24-hour period. if the taliban become persuaded through a variety of things, the pounding their taking out of the special ops community and the prospect that we might withdraw if they backed off, we might see a sudden inflexion point and the fighting evaporate in a short period of time. that's something that petraeus will try to exploit. >> put that -- unpack that as david gregory says on sunday. what does that mean? inflexion point? what do you mean by that? what will happen that's different tomorrow than today? >> well, i think right now, if you're nominated as a district leader in the taliban down in kandahar, the chances are you're going to be dead in 72 hours from a special operations mission. if you're in the sanctuary of the areas of pakistan, the chances are the cia's going to nail you at 2:00 in the morning with a predator. this is starting to weigh on them. they've got huge problems
maintaining a fighting force of 40,000 in afghanistan. it's possible to imagine that the karzai government certainly backed up by petraeus and his people could get them to agree to stop fighting and to try and achieve their purposes or at least temporarily to allow the united states to get out and achieve their purposes in a non-violent way. i'm not suggesting that's likely, i'm just suggesting that's one possible good ending to this devastatingly complex situation we face. >> we've got this look at this administration. we've got the one guy, joe biden, looking at the left telling them, don't worry, it's going to be a big pullout. big pullout coming, big exit is coming next july. we've got the president saying, well, no, there's not going to be any lights being turned off.
then you've got general petraeus saying today it's going to be considered responsible deadline. can they continue to fake this? that there's a clear message here when they know they don't want a clear message? they want ambiguity? >> it's clearly a work in progress. and i love the juxtaposition of these two hearings. they encapsulate the situation. and it embodies the fact that unlike clinton at this point in his presidency, obama is driving his agenda, still passing laws, going forward. >> picking justices. >> and on the other hand, if you look at the petraeus hearing, you see the land mines out there in afghanistan. there are certainly land mines out there on the economy. and i have this image in my head that they're still moving forward but the road they're on is on the edge of a cliff. they may stay on the safe side of the cliff, but there are clearly threats out there. and when you look at the kind of analysis that petraeus gave and what you just suggested that perhaps they're not going to be
in position in a year to do what they're hoping and certainly on the economy is not unfolding the way they are hoping. their situation could become much more difficult even as they continue to show more coherence and forward momentum. and as i say, bill clinton was able to do at this point. >> do you think this president, president obama is acting like a one-term president. in other words, getting done what he came to office to do, shift the supreme court to the left, build health care reform for the country, build more regulation in terms of financial structures and things like that he inherited which were in such tatters. get things done regardless of what cause that might yield next year. in other words, act like we're going to live for today, get the right stuff. >> i think yes and no. clearly he's hoping to be a two-term president and everything they're doing is aimed toward that. but i agree with you that they have tried to move as much as they can through in the first two years on the understanding that even if they didn't lose control of the chamber, their majorities were never going to be as large as they were in '09 because of bush's weakness in
his second term. i think i agree they're trying to move as much through as they can while they have these lopsided majorities and always understood that 2011 was going to be more difficult. they're saving the things they need to do for a world where there will be more republicans like deficit reduction. and they have that sequence in mind. but certainly he's hoping to become president for another term. >> he's redefining the johnson administration. get everything done in the first year in '65 recognizing they won't have anymore time. and by the way, he didn't get more time. we'll continue to watch the petraeus hearing right now. in the meantime, things are a bit more heated over where elena kagan is being grilled by the judiciary committee republican members. her confirmation hearings continue in just three minutes. [ birds chirping, animals calling ] ♪ [ pop ]
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senator sessions, i'm not quite -- sure how i would characterize my politics. but one thing i do know is that my politics would be, must be, have to be completely separate from my judgment. >> well, there you have it, supreme court nominee elena kagan and whether she considers herself a progressive during day two of her senate confirmation hearing. she's taking questions right now from the panel. let's listen. >> for the government's views, ultimately you decided to ask the supreme court to take the case and strike down the employer sanctions that are critical to making the arizona law work. you and i talked about this case and you're familiar with it to discuss it. >> yes. >> you did not argue that the court should take it because there was a split in the circuits. >> that's correct, senator. >> or that there had been an
unconstitutional application of the law in any way. >> i think what we argued was that the arizona statute or at least this part of it was preempted by congress. and therefore the decision below was wrong. and that the reason for the court to take the case was not only that it was wrong because the arizona statute was statutorily preempted, but also this was an important question. it's one of the category of cases. >> because that third category. >> the third category. >> not very many, but where they are, they're important. >> that's right. lots are surpassing these kinds of laws and the guidance from the supreme court would be appropriate as to what will be legislation. >> the supreme court isn't in business of giving guidance, though, is it? >> well, i think for the supreme court to set down it's view of what the federal statute
preempts would be very helpful. >> sure, but i mean the court turns down hundreds of cases. and i'm sure its ruling in each case would be helpful. as i recorded your comment earlier this morning in that third category, you said that it would have to be a strikingly significant issue for the court to take the case in that third category. have an important federal question. >> senator kyl, what we argued to the court -- >> you said it should be a strikingly significant issue, did you not? >> i'm honestly not sure exactly -- >> i got the quote accurate. >> if i might, senator kyl, what we argued to the court was there was a federal statute in this case. i know that -- well, there was a federal statute in this case. our best read of that federal statute was that it preempted the licensing provision of the arizona law. that was our best understanding of what the federal statutes did. and that because there's so much
legislative activity in this -- in this area happening across this country right now that for the supreme court to decide that question and to determine whether the federal statute preempted the state law was one of those moments where -- which would -- where the issue is of significance -- real significance across the country. >> so you think that made it strikingly significant? >> i think this is a significant issue. and people, i think, on both sides agree it is a significant issue as to whether the federal statute prevents states from doing this. and it's not a decision viewed as to whether the state statutes are good or bad. they might be very good. the only question is whether congress has legislation. and here the legislation was in the -- >> and here's what the federal law said. it says this is an area for the federal government, but under
the federal law, states are explicitly permitted to legislate in this area. and i'm quoting the statute now, through licensing it and similar laws. through licensing and similar laws. and you argued in your brief that the states revoking of a license didn't qualify for that explicit preemption under the statute, right? >> what we argued in the brief was the arizona law did not qualify under that exception because what that exception was meant to talk about was sort of traditional licensing laws of the kind when, you know, you license a lawyer or you license a doctor, or you license a chiropractor. but not a law that essentially imposes sanctions on any employer for hiring illegal aliens. >> this was a statute that
federal statute deals with hiring people who are not qualified to be hired in the country, who are called illegal aliens. and it said that the federal government has the preemption in this area except where states pass laws through licensing and laws. wasn't it inferred there that the court meant for states to be able to do exactly the kind of things that the state of arizona did? it wasn't limited to licensing a professional. it was the denial of the license to someone violating the law. >> we definitely took a different position. the reason was this statute clearly would prevent a state from saying anybody who hires an undocumented or illegal alien would be fined $25. the statute clearly prevents a state from saying that from imposing a penalty on an employer who hires an illegal alien. and the statute clearly prevents a state from imposing a penalty
like that. then surely the statute also prevents a state from imposing a penalty which is the withdrawal of any ability -- >> that's the argument that you make. but surely the federal government could impose a fine, but the federal government doesn't get into the licensing of businesses, that's a state activity. so i could argue just as easily and i'm sure the court will consider the argument that, of course, that's the kind of thing that states can do. and so just as a state could grant a license, it could also take a license away if a business violated the law. we'll talk a little bit more about this, i guess, in the second round. but the reason i raise this is that my guess is and i would ask you whether you agree that without the sg taking the position that you did that it's much less likely that the court would've taken the case, would you agree with that? >> you know, i don't know that senator kyl, sometimes they listen to us and sometimes they don't. sometimes we tell them in no
uncertain terms this is a terrible case to take and they take it anyway. >> well the stats are 80%. that's a pretty good percentage when you ask them to take a case and they do. >> was this a case where the supreme court asked the -- >> the 80% statistic, i think is the statistic when the government files its own petition. i think we do well when we answer the court's requests for, you know, our advice on whether -- >> when we have the next round, i'll have the exact statistic. >> i hope we do well. i hope we do. >> i think you do very well. >> okay. >> thank you. >> senator feingold, and then when senator feingold finishes, we will -- we will break, and i would reiterate to senators and senator kyl, you're in the leadership you probably know this, but apparently the vote is at 2:15. i'll vote at the desk and come back and i'll recognize the next person in line, which would be
on the republican side. senator feingold. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you again. >> i guess let's go to our panel, michelle bernard's president of women's forum and an msnbc political analyst, as well. george washington university law professor jonathan turley is joining us, and eugene. it seems we're hitting the hot button issues here in these hearings. arizona senator john kyl obviously interested in defending the arizona law. questioning elena kagan for her role as solicitor general when the government of barack obama, the administration of barack obama went after the decision -- the i'm listening to something here. the aspect of the arizona law
which said that you can take away the license of a company who hired someone illegally. most americans would probably support the arizona law in that regard. why not stop businesses from hiring people illegally? because that's the main magnet for why people come to this country to work. >> yeah. >> but this administration said no, they didn't think the arizona government had the right, the legislation to pass such a law. this is getting to hot button issues. >> this is a key issue, particularly for elena kagan particularly as her role as solicitor general. the independence women forum hosted a two-hour debate on the constitutionality of arizona law. senator kyl spoke without any rhetoric about what's happening on the ground. i think this is a huge issue for the obama administration and for the solicitor general. >> and they're on the wrong side politically of the issue. >> if you look at the arizona law and read it, the constitutional scholars that we had both right and left agreed that possibly on its face the arizona law is constitutional. the question will be in terms of challenges, are the application of the law.
now, you've got groups that are left of center like the mexican-american legal defense fund all have filed a lawsuit against the state of arizona claiming on various grounds that that arizona law is unconstitutional. i think you'll continue to see senator kyl and people from the border states trying to figure out exactly where solicitor general elena kagan stands on the constitutionality of the law. and i think this might be an area where you see left and right have problems with whatever her viewpoints might be or the viewpoints of the administration. >> ron brownstein, you cover politics. it looks to me like for his own state purposes, senator kyl, he's a tough conservative who would only face a primary challenge out there, would never be defeated in general election. he is on very strong ground here politically. defending his state, the conservatives of his state and sort of ripping the scab off an issue that is going to hurt this president. >> well, the politics of illegal immigration are complex, because as you say the arizona law has consistently won majority
support in the country and polling despite intense criticism. on the other hand, chris, there's also substantial and equal majority support for the idea there has to be a comprehensive solution to immigration that includes a guest worker program and includes some kind of pathway to citizenship for people who are here illegally rather than the idea of mass deportation. that also polls at around 60% or above and has for a number of years. >> but one is real. the arizona law exists, this notion of a comprehensive immigration bill, which a lot of people like myself think are great hasn't existed. >> it's never gotten -- of course in '06 under bush, it passed the senate with over 60 votes, and then under the so-called haster rule, he did not bring it up in the house. it is not one-sided. it is complex. people are offended by the idea of people flouting the law. and that is why i think the arizona initiative has been more popular than many on the left expected. on the other hand, they are
practical, and i think by and large the american public thinks it is unrealistic to deport 11 million or 12 million people who are playing a role in the economy. now obviously in a downturn, you know, that role becomes more precarious and more politically charged. but there is still, even now, even amid this downturn, this is support for comprehensive -- just real fascinating. republicans going after all of these hot-button issues. you see they want to frame this as a cultural issue. democrats coming back with a more systematic response. trying to define it as trench power. they want to frame this in economic terms, republicans want to frame it in cultural terms. >> jonathan, it seems to me a lot of our unfortunate history in this century, the last century, especially has been built on the idea that when the center left coalition fails to govern effectively, people go to the right. a lot of people don't like the way it's being done, but they want something done. and people will take the extremist position rather than nothing.
and that seems to be the choice. because there isn't a successful comprehensive effort. harry reid's not leading the fight for an i.d. card as part of a comprehensive solution. he doesn't want to offend the hispanic community. the democrats, except for the gutsy people like chuck schumer and john kerry and lindsey graham who are not from the southwest are not really supporting a comprehensive solution to the democrats. they're not out there saying here's how we're going to do it. keep the people here who have been here for a while. stop the people from coming in illegally to get jobs here, do it right. instead of doing it right, we're doing it wrong in arizona, but it's still better than nothing in the eyes of most voters. your thoughts? >> well, i think that's true. i did a column in "usa today" talking about the linkage between immigration, bank reform, mortgage reform, and the unpopularity of all of that in polls. and i think that the common denominator is that people feel that laws only apply to them. that powerful groups constantly get a pass when it's politically
convenient. and i do think it goes beyond immigration. there is as was mentioned earlier, a growing feeling that there are people that are flouting the law. but in terms of kyl's questioning of kagan, that dog won't hunt with regard to my view in confirmation. in that the solicitor general does have some independence to decide what cases to bring. so she's not just a bus that picks up everything that stops next to her. but the fact is she is supposed to carry on the agenda of the administration. and i'm not too sure it's really that damning to say that she pushed this particular position. sort of like with specter yesterday demanding to know if she would vote to grant sert in particular cases. even i have problems with that. you don't want a nominee to say yeah, i'm definitely going to grant a vote.
that's not exactly cope settic. >> he has no other political interest except his own. let's go to eugene. let me ask you about the issues that come up. hot as heck with republicans, they don't like restraints on campaign spending. that's come up here as a hot issue. george will writes about this, i think, every other week. it is an obsession with people on the right. they don't want restraints on spending and campaigns. they still believe that they have the wealthier party to represent. and therefore the better, easier party to get money from in campaigns. >> that's wrong. it's not just conservatives who have taken the view that speech and campaigns need to be protected. until recently the aclu has taken. a speech by labor unions as well
as by corporations. in my own state of california which has had unlimited free speech by corporations and unions with regard to candidates, unions and indian tribes routinely spend much more than corporations do. there are two different visions of the proper role of the first amendment when it comes to campaign-related speech. one vision that under the first amendment, people need to be able to feel free to speak, including using their own money and including through the -- through corporations and through unions including incidentally media corporations. and another vision is there needs to be more regulation. as it happens, there is something right/left divide, but never a solid divide. there's been many conservatives who have taken a regulation view, and liberals taken a prospeech view. this is a vision that goes to interesting and important first amendment questions. i do think, though, that it's probably not in the republicans'
interest to stress it. as i see it, kagan is going to be confirmed. she's got the votes to do that. so the real question is not about the votes now, it's about the votes in november. it seems to me in the republicans' interest to stress those issues in which the electorate is on their side. as a way of sending a message to the electorate that we -- our view of the constitution matches your view of the constitution. and the obama administration's and the left wing's view does not match yours. i tend to agree with the broad free speech view here, i don't think it polls very well. i don't think the public likes it. it seems better to focus on things like gun right where is the public is very much on their side and the obama administration is not. and same sex marriage, on religious speech on public places. and it would be the democrats' interest to speak on campaign
restrictions. >> general david petraeus being questioned now by the senate armed services committee. particularly about that very hot july 2011 timetable for withdrawal, which has gotten so many meetings here. we're trying to figure out what it does mean. and the senate judiciary committee on the other screen there on the left is elena kagan on all matters of issues. it's day two of her confirmation hearings. will senator specter vote to confirm kagan? i'm going to ask him tonight on "hardball." this is going to be interesting. i don't think we'll get the answer, but we will try at 7:00 p.m. eastern tonight only here on msnbc. get our hands a little busier. our dollars a little stronger. and our thinking a little greener. let's grab all the bags and all the plants and all the latest tools out there. so we can turn all these savings into more colorful shades of doing. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. we've made a special buy on off clip-on for just $6.88 each.
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stop it. hello? you spotted a million dollar accounting error that no one else noticed. that was pretty sweet. but you did have eight layers of sweet crunchy back up. what can i say? you're the man. or -- you know, the little dude. that's me. [ female announcer ] stop mid-morning hunger with kellogg's® frosted mini-wheats® cereal. an excellent source of fiber from 100% whole grain that helps you stay full, so you can stay focused. also, try chocolate little bites. so, how'd the meeting go? outstanding, i wowed them with my chocolate chip center. how do you plan to utilize those relationships as commander of the u.s. forces in afghanistan? >> well, the -- that relationship is crucially important. and we worked it very, very hard, as did admiral mullen and as did by the way general
mcchrystal who made a number of visits to islamabad to meet with other pakistani officials. but the relationship between the afghan government and the pakistani government between the militaries and so forth is critical. as i mentioned -- >> joining me now to discuss the new assignment for general petraeus, about to be the field commander in afghanistan, our retired four-star general wesly clark, also chairman and ceo of wes k. clark and associates. msnbc military analyst and michelle bernard, president and ceo of the independent women's forum and an msnbc political analyst. and the political director for atlantic media ron brownstein. i guess we're going to have to go back to general wes clark. and this question, i guess, the term victory has been brought back to parlance in afghanistan. but you also hear an interesting
sort of dissidents on the right. i guess it's because we've all studied the british experience over there, the soviet experience, we've all seen ""charlie wilson's wacharlie ws" >> well, i think the key thing is to figure out what it is that the united states is trying to achieve over there. and so you can't just put out a slogan and say when in afghanistan, or let's go for victory. it seems to me what we want to achieve is we want to have a state that does not become a training ground and a host for international terrorism. so we're really not concerned with who the leadership is. we'd like it if they have western standards. and our standards, but they may not have exactly our same view on how to govern. so we have to keep our eye very
closely on the objective. we're not trying to make the 51st state there, we're not trying to eliminate everybody who swore allegiance to al qaeda. and therefore, or the taliban. we want people to change their views and come together and support an independent afghanistan or maybe even a federalized afghanistan with some differing loyalties in there. but what we want is to make sure that it doesn't become a training ground for al qaeda and international terrorism. >> well, general mccaffrey, i guess there's gradations of that. we could have a government which could include a safer versions of the taliban -- i want to leave this as an open question to you. could you imagine the vice president's correct, we could go from a counterinsurgency strategy to a counterterrorism strategy, remain in the region close enough to use drone attack against al qaeda elements as they attempt to return as we
assume they will to afghanistan? could we succeed with such a strategy with limited nature such as that? >> practically speaking, i could see us drawing down from 140,000 coalition troops to a more modest presence, 30,000 to 40,000 within five years. but you -- operating over the horizon means off a carrier out in the indian ocean with two air-to-air refuelings just to get over the target area. let me say i basically just buy into what wes clark characterizes the situation. i think he's right on target. one thing to add, though, is pakistan. we have vital national security interests at stake in pakistan. four separate nations, a weak government, nuclear weapons. whenever i go into afghanistan, i always spend the first week in islamabad listening to what the pack army and the isi have to say. they're in trouble. so petraeus' responsibilities
are going to have to take into account pakistan as one of his central concerns. >> so that, i guess, are you making the case that if we lose control of afghanistan, we lose -- we threaten pakistan? >> well, i think first of all, the pakistanis will be outraged that we did it to them again. you know we withdrew suddenly after the soviet defeat on the ground in afghanistan. they'll say you people led us on. and by the way, there's 45 other nations who will view us as having tricked them into going into afghanistan and then abandoning them. again, the obama administration faces a huge challenge. the short-range consequences of losing our devastating in terms of human rights inside afghanistan. its influence on the packs, et cetera. how to imagine how you cut and run. >> well, that question, ron brownstein. go ahead, general clark. >> if i could come in and reemphasize what barry is saying. it really is about pakistan,
because we know that pakistan is where the base area is. it's nurtured the insurgency there and it's also true that pakistan doesn't want an indian threat at the back door. so they're rightly concerned about what kind of regime emerges in afghanistan. so there's some very complicated diplomacy. plus there's the whole base area sanctuary issue that the administration's been grappling so hard with. i go back to vietnam where barry and i and jack jacobs fought and we know well what it means to have the enemy on the other side of the international border. in vietnam, we could and should've taken action much sooner, we didn't. and when we tried to take action, it was too late politically. so i hope we're doing everything we can to work with the pakistanis and put the pressure on in that area. >> and the relationship with the pakistanis is a very complex one in terms of what the role in afghanistan and the degree to which they are supporting our efforts and pursuing their own. i would disagree to some extent
that there's not a political tether politically in afghanistan. we're talking about july 2011, talking about the ten-year anniversary of our initial engagement there. and not only in the u.s. but in other key coalition countries, there is obviously going to be the political question of whether there is infinite, you know, tolerance for the presence there. there is obviously the risk of the situation deteriorating further if we lose control of the country, becomes a base, again for international terrorism. on the other hand, the princiipl base is, in fact, as general clark was suggesting now across the border in pakistan, which is a much more immediate challenge that we have only limited access to pursue, although the administration has been pretty aggressive on that with the drones and the predators. >> i can only imagine gentlemen, generals, as well, this is the kind of conversation that the president has had to listen to. this is what he confronts, all of the arguments about the cost of staying in afghanistan. but the profound fact if we pull out, what he faces in terms of
pakistan, what he faces in terms of a restored base for al qaeda, perhaps in afghanistan. it's so horrendous, he must have finally come down and decided what he did. we're going to stay there long enough to make it one more big effort. by the way, picking petraeus as the ultimate big college try. one more try. >> the one thing i wanted to add to this when we talk about how long we're going to be there and what's the impact on the united states national security. i think we need to piggyback on what general mccaffrey said about human rights in pakistan and elsewhere. quite often when we talk about u.s. engagement in these countries, women are completely left out of the discussion. and i think as a woman sitting here on the panel, i'd be remiss not to mention what the taliban is doing to women in afghanistan. and there are millions of american women who look up and say how do you cut and run when you have a country that has no respect for the lives of women. where more than 50% of the population is raped, mutilated, killed on a daily basis, it has to be part of the national security question and how we defend women's international
human rights. >> after ten years of engagement, that by itself, i don't think will be enough to sustain american involvement. >> but it needs to be part of the discussion. >> it certainly does. but the core issue will be whether the cost of our continued engagement is justified by the benefit of what we are achieving there. especially when you look at the additional challenges they face across the board. in pakistan, the president made the call, as you said, chris, the calculus was still yes, but i don't think it's an infinite tether. >> what's happening is the pacing item. it's what's driving the afghanistan problem. so it may take us a long time to train the afghan military, but if there's no substantial threat from the taliban -- if they're not getting a sanction ware to rearm and retrain and gather new equipment in, it's a lot easier problem. so the more we do with pakistan, and the more we push in fadah,
the more likely we'll be able to initiate and draw down troops sooner. we have to keep that in mind. this is really the pacing item. a news story opening today. since the opening bell today we've been watching breaking news out of wall street. the dow's taking a huge hit with bad consumer confidence news. let's go to trish regan at cnbc. what's the cause and effect here? is this anticipating a bad economic number? a bad jobless number this friday for june? what's causing consumer confidence to drop and then drive the dow down? >> well, consumers are concerned, chris, because a lot of them, frankly, still haven't found jobs. and so that starts to have a big effect on people's psychological level as you would imagine. now, as far as investors and how they're reacting to that, well, they got that consumer confidence number out today. that was not good. it came in a lot worse than expected. meanwhile, there are concerns about china and the slowdown in china not seeing the kind of
tremendous growth that people were counting on and banking oncoming out of asia. and then the other biggy and it's been out there for a while, and it's continued to plague this market, that's europe. and the fears of a debt contagion crisis. all of this, chris, adding up to concerns about a global slowdown. and if you've got a global slowdown, you're going to have a hard time getting people back to work. so yes, it's all sort of folded in together, a lot of concerns about what this job number's going to look like on friday. don't forget, the government even though it hired more than 400,000 census workers in may actually laid off about 250,000 of those census workers in the month of june. and that's going to be reflected in this number. so definitely some trepidation out there, i would say, chris. >> is it possible that the jobless number could spike back to ten? >> it's certainly possible. some people are very worried about it. and you know, all of these estimates that start to come in show a range. we're seeing about 9.7 perce% a
consens consensus. however, we're seeing some fears related to these census workers that are being laid off. that consumer confidence number was much worse than anticipated. and you have other issues going on in terms of this massive debt contagion going on in europe. people are fearful, chris, that that could actually start to spill over to right here at home. you look at harrisburg, pennsylvania, on the verge of bankruptcy. a lot of other communities around the country on the verge of bankruptcy. if they actually default, what would that mean for municipal bonds? hear this side of the equation. and you look at the cost of protection right now, chris, on spanish debt. it's actually the same as the cost of protection on california, new york, and new jersey debt. so that gives you some sense of just how worried people are. >> well, it's a rubik's cube he's facing right now.
if you do have this bankruptcy in places like harrisburg, my god, i can understand the problem. we're watching, thank you so much, trish regan, from cnbc. we're watching the confirmation hearings of elena kagan for the united states supreme court. joining us now is michelle bernard and ron brownstein. and george washington university law professor jonathan turley, eugene volokh, we're going to ask -- well, my view is this country is in a very big political challenge right now. we have a president pushing a progressive agenda in terms of the supreme court nominees, having pushed a health care bill, which is extremely controversial, but he has gotten it through. you pointed this out. the president is on one track. get something done this first term before he loses control of congress effectively, get it done, then deal with the results of the next two years.
the international economic situation seems to me now has left him with very few levers. fiscal policy is basically at an end zone, can't do anything more, can't run up the deficit more. no stimulus bills will be passed by congress, the public doesn't want it, they've been t.a.r.p.ed to death right now. how much lower can you take the rate? you can't. what can you do? the rest of the world is in a hoover-esque mode right now. cut spending, which got greece in trouble. the world doesn't want to respond to his push for stimulus. and he's sitting here looking at perhaps a spike up to 10%. we can't have another census, i don't think that option is there, just kidding. what a situation. what a revolt in development. >> if the economy slows down, as we were saying before, this challenges, where can he go politically? what are the options available as you say more stimulus, very difficult to imagine, maybe there's an opportunity somewhere in infrastructure, but it's hard
to imagine anything commence rate. unemployment among college-educated americans under 5%. consumer confidence not so much affected by those folks by the unemployment rate as the dow itself. and i think the decline you've seen among the more upper middle class voters americans about their view of the economy is related to the dow. whereas in kind of the blue collar part of it -- it's tied to the unemployment rate. more upscale -- >> i look at the market all the time and see it dipping below 10,000. a very bad mood right now. i may be less likely to go for dinner tonight. that's the least of most people's worries. i'm chris mathews watching for "hardball." i'm going to stay right there. i'll see you right back here for "hardball" tonight at 7:00 eastern. senator arlen specter will be with us. he wants to know a lot about kagan. and we're going to find out
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